Monday, December 19, 2011

12/19/2011: Avarice, Unemployment Anniversary, Lee Camp

Seven Deadly Sins by Rox Steady
Image by dingler1109 via Flickr
These GOP presidential candidate hopefuls like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann enjoy preaching to their religious base about the inherent sins of homosexuality. They smile and wave as they insist that they have nothing against gays themselves, but that allowing gay marriage or gays in the military would only weaken the sacred institutions of marriage and international warfare by allowing a level of acceptance to leak into society's collective consciousness.

As much as I don't agree with these judgement, I want to approach this under the assumption that I actually agree with and understand their desire to prevent sin from gaining a foothold in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere. Because (and I think this is very important) if we are going to be concerning ourselves with major sins that decay the soul from within, then why are none of the Religious Right's avid pundits raising a clarion call against Avarice?

That's right, Avarice is a sin. Not only is it a sin, but it's a fairly topical one. The unfettered lust for greed and wealth has been running rampant through our culture for decades now, and has played no small part in the near destruction of our economic stability. The US population's income disparity has become so vast that even the Cable News channels are bothering to mention it now and then in between their hour-long masturbatory editorial programs, and Occupy protest have sprung up all over the country to deliver a clear and unyielding challenge to the exploitation of the many by the few that reporters and politicians are unanimously pretending not to understand.

Clearly, Avarice is what you might call a "Hot Button" topic right now. Just the kind of thing that political speech-writers like to jump on to make their clients seem less elitist and out of touch with the general populace. So why don't I hear Perry or Bachmann or Gingrich speaking out about the sin of Avarice?

You know the reason as well as I do. Because these candidates are all sinners. A blind, unyielding urge to accumulate wealth and power beyond their need is sewn into the very fabric of their beings. These people aren't devoted civic leaders or dedicated political activists; they are CEOs and businessmen, power brokers looking to increase their negotiable value in their endless pursuit of even more wealth and power. The Presidency isn't a goal or achievement to them. Rather, it is merely a means to an end, a stepping stone on the way to their ultimate goal: accumulating more wealth.

Because that's the other reason the word Avarice will never leave their lips: they are beholden to those who seek wealth and power. They ca not speak out against the greedy and corrupt, for it is they who pay their bills, fill their war chests, and secure their post-presidency positions. At the end of the day, it is the sin of Avarice signs their paychecks, the love that dare not speak its name in the halls of power.

So the next time Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann call homosexuality a sin, just remember that they are back a far greater evil. In their eyes, a man screwing another man is an abomination in the eyes of God, but a board of executives screwing over thousands of workers is just something you do in between mistresses and gold outings. Avarice, thine name is Government.


This Christmas marks the third anniversary of employer of fifteen years laying me off due to his inability to plan ahead for an economic downturn. Not only a great example of company loyalty, but an inventive way around those pesky Christmas bonuses, no?


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

12/8/11: Drug Testing the Lower Class

Yay drug tests!
Image by elaine a via Flickr
Holy shit. Yet another Republican politician pulls fake numbers out of his ass regarding drug usage and the less fortunate:

"I had an employer tell me of an overwhelming response for job openings," Georgia Republican Jack Kingston excreted in a statement the other day. "There was just one problem: half the people who applied could not even pass a drug test."

Sound familiar? It should. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a similar baseless claim awhile back when proposing that those collection Unemployment Benefits should be drug tested, only to back down when her supposed source claimed to have said no such thing. Then there's the requirement that passed in Florida that all welfare applicants had to prove they weren't on drugs. By the time a federal judge put a stop to the policy on constitutional grounds, the amount of applicants who tested positive (including those who refused to take the test) was a third below the national average.

So why do these otherwise presumably (one would hope) intelligent people continue to make shit up? Especially when the media eventually gets around to proving the statements as baseless and unsubstantiated?

Two words: Class Warfare.

I know, these days you only seem to hear that phrase when Republicans speaks out to defend their rich friends and puppet-masters (and yes, the Democrats have them as well, so shut up) from accurate allegations of not paying enough taxes and rigging the system to their own benefit. But this is the Class Warfare the media doesn't feel the need to point out.

The point of these proposals and their false rationals isn't to actually to pass legislation. These politicians know that such restrictions won't pass and will not be tolerated by the system (at least, until it becomes completely corrupt, which might not be too far own the road). The game here is to get these statements out into the news cycle and spread the insinuation that those who are poor or unemployed aren't the victims of an economy completely shit-canned by greedy market manipulators and wealth-hoarding billionaires, but rather useless drug addicts attempting to leech off of society (and your hard-earned tax dollars, sir!) in between bong hits.

Because the unemployment problem and homeless problem and poverty problem aren't going away anytime soon the way these jackals are running things, and it's been dragging on so long that the min-numbed American population is starting to actually realize that these increasing numbers of destitute and needy people haven't simply been caused by a sudden spike in laziness and irresponsibility.

So these politicians need to distract and misinform through soundbites that are rarely followed quickly enough by corrections in this lightening-speed multimedia world. They need to confirm the ignorant beliefs held by their dwindling minority of steadfast supporters that other people's problems are nobody's fault but their own, and that anybody seeking help from the government is a moocher and a slacker. Because it isn't about fixing problems, it's about hiding them.

This is not an attack on the poor or the unemployed. It is much greater than that. This is an attack on the very foundation of a system designed to prevent America from descending into the depths of a caste system permanently separating the rich from the poor, and ensuring that the American Dream (whatever the hell that is) can no longer be reached by those at the bottom of the pile.

Welcome to the New America. It is arriving sooner that you might have expected.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/6/11: Horrible Bosses & Cheese, Authors & Cats, Gays & Bachmann

Cheese on a market in Basel, Switzerland
Image via Wikipedia
One morning, years ago, my former employer of fifteen years held a brief Monday morning office meeting in which he declared a new company policy. "From now on," he stated, "'I don't know' is not an acceptable answer for any question. Understood?"

I still remember wondering to myself which management self-help book he had pulled that little nugget of inspirational go-getter wisdom from over the weekend. You could always spot them buried under invoices on his desk or stuck between business-to-business directories on the single bookshelf in his office, pseudo-informative guides like The Art of War, or Seven Steps Towards Effective Management. I guess I should be thankful that this was back before Who Moved My Cheese? became the popular corporate handbook on motivating workers through mindless platitudes.

Looking back, I guess I'm thankful that he read those books for as long as he did before finally listening to the advice of his small business owners buddies. Handling the occasional pointless procedural directive was much more preferable to him laying off all of his full time employees and staffing the entire company with part-timers, interns, and freelance contractors when he suddenly discovered that he had no funds saved up to the run the company in the off chance there was a sharp economic downturn that would effectively cripple the industry as a whole.

I guess when the question was "What are you going to do if business suddenly slows down for an extended period of time," "I don't know" was an acceptable answer.


Why do certain authors feel compelled to include the names of their cats in the bios? Is it because of that T.S. Eliot poem? Whenever I read an author bio that ends with "...lives in a cabin in Wyoming with her Siamese cats Lucinda and Paprika," I have a sudden and overwhelming urge to actively avoid their entire body of work. I'm not saying it is a rational impulse, I'm just expressing my overall dissatisfaction with authors who identify themselves with their pets instead of their achievements.

The only thing that bothers me more than cats in author bios? Book cover author pictures taken with their dogs. I'm just saying.



You've got to love it when mindless bigotry and prejudice is stopped dead in its tracks by the simplest of acts. Imaginary Republican Presidential Candidate Michelle Bachmann found herself on the receiving end of a face-full of rationality at a South Carolina book signing. The well-armed activist? An eight-year-old boy.

Now, let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the child was undoubtedly coached to say this to Bachmann by his mother. That goes without saying. But unlike many Bachmann supporters will likely claim, this reality does nothing to lessen the importance of this confrontation. Because what it all comes down to is that Elijah undoubtedly feels this way about his mother.

When Bachmann, one of the odious politicians running on the Anti-Gay Parents platform, actively campaigning against allowing gay couples to adopt and raise children of their own, is shamed into silence by one of the no-longer-hypothetical children that she supposedly wants to save from the evils of gay parental influence, there is a lesson to be learned. You can speak out against gay parents and propose legislation to prevent gay couples from adopting in order to drum up support from your homophobic far-right followers all you want, they're an easy audience to win over with false science and moral posturing. But none of that works with the child you are openly accusing of being damaged because Mommy, whom that child loves and adores with all his heart, just happens to be gay as well.

It isn't about morality, it isn't about politics, and it isn't even about gays. It's about Elijah. And he just slapped you down, big-time.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

12/3/11: Coffee, Salt, Sugar, Prayer, Going Undercover

coffee in paper cup
Image by davedehetre via Flickr
I ordered a fast food coffee this morning, which I never do. They gave me four creamers and six creamers with the McDonald's-Crotch-Hot 20oz cup of Joe, but filled it all the way to the brim so I couldn't possibly add anything to it without letting it cool and drinking a bit first. I know it's a stupid thing to complain about, but I guess I'm just a Glass Too Full kinda guy.

By the way, anyone even thinking of suggesting that I could have simply poured a little bit of coffee onto the ground to make room for the additions has no true respect for the sanctity and integrity of morning coffee. So keep it to yourself, philistines.


I've been seeing headlines about the Los Angeles Police reportedly going "Undercover" at the Occupy Wall Street Encampment before the massive police-state violation of civil rights raid. Can we really justify using the term "Going Undercover" in this instance?

Usually, when we hear that law enforcement has gone undercover, we visualize brave detectives spending months and months subtly insinuating themselves into the midst of highly exclusive organizations, risking their very lives as they infiltrate organized crime syndicates, foreign terror cells, armed separatist groups, or volatile religious cults, often in secretive or heavily fortified locations, all in an effort to glean valuable inside information that might possibly help authorities prevent catastrophe or corruption on a massive, even global scale.

In this instance, what we are talking about is some cops wandering into a completely exposed outdoor crowd, striking up some conversation with random people, and ultimately discovering that a few protesters were contemplating fashioning crude spears from bamboo poles in the event of a late night massive police-state violation of civil rights raid. Considering that there were no feverish reports of confiscated spear arsenals resulting from the raid, and taking into account the how plentiful bamboo must be in the middle of City Hall Park, I am inclined to assume that the person who revealed this particular nugget of clandestine information recognized the "New Shoes" for what they were and decided to just make shit it up to mess with them.

It appears that the LAPD agrees with my assessment, seeing as how they reportedly "downplayed the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked." It's probably the same reason that they've been declining to comment on these reports. I'm guessing it might be a little embarrassing for them to try and explain why they felt the need to assign undercover agents to openly public and exceedingly easily monitored protest meetings.


The same fast food chain that overfilled my coffee also gave me seven packets of salt with my single order of bite-sized hash-browns. Exactly how much salt am I expected to consume with my speedy breakfast meal? Do you really need to dole out a fist-full of salt to every individual customer? The owners would probably see a sharp increase in annual revenues if their servers weren't so generous with the salt packets. Of course, they probably such a ludicrous amount out as overall policy. I can easily imagine how many customers must of angrily approached the counter during the one-or-two-per-customer salt packet days, loudly complaining that they weren't given enough salt. So now, because of these taste-bud-deficient heathens, I now find myself possessing seven packets of salt that I am presumably expected to ration equally among the dozen or so hash-brown-tater-tots that came with my sad breakfast burrito. And they wonder why other countries view us as a wasteful, gluttonous nation.

Of course, those paying attention have by now noticed that I did not level the same complaint against the six sugar packets that accompanied my coffee, Which is probably why we are also perceived by many as a nation of hypocrites.



A friend posted on their Facebook page the other morning that they had to take their child to the ER after discovering an unwisely placed play bead in the child's ear. Turns out the bead is wedged pretty tightly, so they're going to have to perform a small surgical procedure later in the week to remove it.

I posted a simple "Hope she okay" to be supportive and polite, but then someone after me posted "Praying for her." Now, I understand how seriously some people take child illnesses and the like, and the mere suggestion of a friend's child going into surgery can seem scary and dangerous. Also, I hate to knock anyone who is acting with the best intentions. However...

Is Prayer really necessary in this instant? Yes, the child will technically be 'going under the knife'. But it isn't as if we are talking tumor removal or joint reconstruction, or anything involving organ donors and blood transfusions. It's a toy lodged in the kid's ear. If this kind of minor procedure warrants prayer, then where is the cut-off line? Should I, for example, expect those close to me to offer me their prayers the next time I go to the dentist? If so, will they be praying for me only for root canals and extractions, or can I count on them praying for me during a routine cleaning?

I'm not saying that people shouldn't pray for the safety and well being of their friends and loved ones, and the children of those people. All I'm saying is, if I make a Facebook post next week about having a filling replaced next Tuesday, and I get less holy promotion than the kid with the toy stuck in her ear, I'm going to be slightly annoyed. I'm just saying.


Did I mention that the fast-food restaurant also gave me two after dinner mints with my single breakfast meal? Either the people assembling the meals are just lazy, or my breath was noticeably pungent over the drive-through speaker.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

American Airlines Bankruptcy: Carrier And Parent Company File For Chapter 11 Protection

Yet another example of how Free-Marke­t Purists are full of it. If the airlines hadn't been protected and supported by the government­, many commercial airlines would have collapsed decades ago. It air travel a vital part of national and internatio­nal commerce? Definitely­. But don't sit there and pretend it isn't a failed business model, then complain when Ford gets a boost.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Monday, November 7, 2011

11/7/11 - Doublethink, Princess Cars, Parade Routes, Republican Denials

Big Brother Orwell "1984" in Donetsk...Image via WikipediaOver the weekend, I found myself involved in a casual conversation regarding the schizophrenic nature of today's culture, mainly involving the influence of entertainment and advertising media on society's ideological foundation. Afterwards, I found myself pondering the aspect of a "Schizophrenic Society," what I or other people actually mean when making such a claim.

While I can't speak for other people, I usually throw the phrase out to imply that our generally accepted belief system forces us to attempt to simultaneously believe two diametrically opposing concepts. The examples of this kind of hypocritical cultural programming are many and varied, like family sitcoms espousing the wisdom of recognizing inner beauty or superficial outward appearances while being interrupt every ten minutes by ads for beauty products featuring waifish, plastic-molded models.

However, I've been chewing on the very concept the past few days, and it occurs to me that I am guilty of the exact same things I am fond of accusing the general public of falling for. From an idealistic viewpoint, I seem to be constantly at war with myself when it comes to my overall opinion regarding the current shape of the world and people as a whole. My opinion regarding the worth of people, society, government, and religion will often swing from hopeful and positive to cynical and misanthropic, at times with the same day or hour. Contemplating this, I have come to the conclusion that this apparent hypocritical mindset, while disconcerting and cautionary, isn't completely unfounded. I am of the firm belief that both my negative and positive views regarding the world and its inhabitants are easily defended and merit equal consideration.

I guess what I'm saying is, Doublethink (to coin a term made popular by George Orwell in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four) might not be as destructive a concept as we might think. Considering the complexities of the human mind and spirit, skewed logic might be the only real way to fully comprehend the reality we have created for ourselves.

I'm still debating as to whether this is good or bad.


And now, for your viewing pleasure, a scene from the Japanese animated film Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena, featuring a young Princess being transformed into a sports car.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled random thoughts and opinions.


What makes local officials think that the best way to draw business into their town is to arrange an event, such as a parade or marathon, that shuts down streets, backs up traffic, and effectively isolates the town's main commercial venues from anyone wanting to swing by for some quick or casual shopping. Parents, locals active in community events, and people with too much time on their hands might be willing to park ten blocks away and run baby stroller hurdles down crowded sidewalks in order to watch a bike race or a parade comprised of pickup trucks and tractors with random kids and strangers waving from flatbeds, but someone looking to spend some weekend folding money on a nice meal or expensive home decor are probably just going turn around and drive on to the next exit. You want to draw activity to your town? Overrun the lesser-populated areas of town, and give those not interested in extravagantly underfunded displays in local pride access to the parking meters. Just a thought.



Dahlia Lithwick has a great article over at lamenting that the instinctual Republican reaction the the recently resurfacing accusations of sexual harassment leveled at primary hopeful Herman Cain has not been to defend him, but to instead imply, suggest, or outright stating that sexual harassment in the workplace just doesn't happen.

This has always been a major disconnect for me with the Republican party and those who religiously follow their talking points, a false logic meant to cover flaws in their idealistic posturing. Instead of acknowledging and attempting to correct or address inequalities and injustices that hurt their political agenda, they always find it much easier to dismiss claims of abuse or need.

In this convoluted, self-serving fashion, welfare recipients wear fur coats and have multiple children to increase their benefits, those collecting unemployment are just lazy freeloaders, labor unions are terrorist organizations that hold defenseless corporations hostage for inflated salaries, worker rights are just another excuse for employees to avoid doing their jobs, sexism is just a feminist myth, and racism just plain doesn't exist anymore.

I understand that not all Republicans think or talk this way. But it is the majority of the ones in power who do, and those who follow their lead, that prevent me from taking anything their party espouses idealistically as serious or trustworthy.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

11/2/11 - Sleep, Alarm Clock, Bela Lugosi, Dharma Initiative

alarm clock, bought from IKEAImage via WikipediaI really hate sleep. Can you honestly think of a more total and undeniable waste of time, outside of maybe late-night infomercials? If you get too much, you don't have time in the day left to get anything done, and if you don't get enough, you eventually become too impaired to get anything done. And don't even think about trying to get just the right amount, because it doesn't exist. Then, if you are lucky enough to go without it long enough to catch up on what needs to be done, you eventually crash and snooze for half a day, completely backing you up again.

Maybe I just need a new alarm clock.


Alarm clocks seem to be one of those semi-obsolete pieces of technology that we seldom use anymore, yet still can't fully divorce ourselves from making or owning. Most people these days use their cell phones or smart phones as their alarm clock, and those who never advanced that far technologically still use their digital watches. However, most of these people still have radio/ipod/cd/mp3 alarm clocks on a night stand or dresser in their bedrooms, most likely serving no purpose other than to display the time in a sharp, glowing digital format. In fact, half of the alarm clocks you see for sale these days do their best to act as a multimedia center for the bedroom, despite the fact that many people these days actually have multimedia centers in their bedrooms. 

I guess you could call it a final vain attempt to retain a sense of relevance. Alarm clocks are like the Willie Lomans of technology, hanging around long after they're needed, having outlived their own usefulness, trying desperately to feel important in a marketplace made up of people walking around with multimedia centers clipped to their belts, doing anything they can to cling to their tenuous grasp on their own validity, all the while contemplating a meaningful death. Who knew waking up could be such a sad experience?


Have I mentioned that my book, Performed by Lugosi, is currently available for purchase on, and at your local bookstore (if they bother to stock awesome books, that is)? Did I also mention that you can purchase autographed copies from me directly, and that Performed by Lugosi is a great work of literary/film criticism that explores the career of one of Hollywood's most recognizable horror film icons through the films he starred in (like The Body Snatcher, The Black Cat, and Murders in the Rue Morgue) that were based on the short stories of some of the most famous and well-respected authors in literary history (such as Robert Louis Stephenson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Arthur Conan Doyle), which are also reprinted along with my insightful film commentary?

I thought so. Just checking.


As far as alarm clocks go, this Dharma Initiative Alarm Clock is probably the best one on the market. Hell, you'd probably be Lost without it. Get it? Okay, I'm done.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

10/31/11 - Hate Mail, DWD, Halloween, Serial Killers on Horseback, Interruptions

Jack-o-laternImage via WikipediaIt looks as if my last blog post is the most popular one that I have posted in a long time. Maybe I should write more blog posts directed specifically towards people I don't like. Coming up, open letters to several of my neighbors, half of the people I ever went to school with, and prick with the Bluetooth in line behind me at the Wawa last week.


I keep falling asleep on my way to work. I blame my down pillow headrest.


I'd wish everyone a Happy Halloween, but I'm not sure if my heart is really into it anymore.

I'm not sure exactly when it was that I stopped getting into the holiday spirit. It was probably around the time that parents started taking kids out trick or treating on the most convenient weekend evening instead of the day itself, or when they started doing it in the early afternoon out of some bizarre fear of having their children out after dark. Maybe it was when they started taking kids trick or treating at the mall or in parking lots instead of going door to door, legitimizing the ever-growing xenophobic fear of other people, or when schools and parent organizations started banning certain costumes to prevent the accidental promotion of witchcraft, satanism, hedonism or popular culture worship. More likely than not, I'm just bitter that I've reached an age at which wearing a mask in public is more likely to prompt the response of a panicky 911 call than a gift of free candy.


Had the "Serial Killer Dream" again last night. The particulars of the crime are hazy, but this time my actions have gained notoriety, and there is a heavy push by the police to track me down. I do not know exactly what I have done, only that I regret not having the will power to resist doing it, and that I am now desperate to cover my tracks so I am not caught. My thoughts even go to past lapses, which I can only assume is a direct reference to previous dreams.

I had driven into New York City, where I rented a horse before committing whatever atrocity I have perpetrated. The NYPD has discovered the bodies, and is assembling a dragnet to track me down. I park the horse in a public restroom and contemplate my error. If the police are looking for connections to the crime, they'll probably check all of the local horse rental dealerships. If I return the horse, they'll probably be waiting for me. If I don't return the horse, it will arouse even more suspicion, and they will still be able to track me down, as all horse rental dealerships require a credit card imprint these days.

After hours of kicking myself for making this blunder and desperately trying to figure out a way out of this debacle, it suddenly occurs to me that I did not take the horse to the scene of the crime. I'm not even sure why I rented a horse in the first place, but there is now no logical reason to fear returning it and getting my deposit back. I can now flee the city in the car I stole earlier that evening with no worries of apprehension.

Maybe I should try going to bed earlier.


Don't ask me why, but this morning it suddenly occurs to me that being talked over while I am speaking to someone else is probably my favorite thing in the world. Honestly, I can't have it happen to me enough.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Open Letter to Brian, Regarding the Passing of an Old Friend

Dear Brian,

We have had our differences in the past. So much so, in fact, that I find myself posting this open letter to you on my blog, as I have no doubt you have blocked my email in order to avoid any direct contact. I happen to know that you monitor my online presence, however, so I'm sure this will eventually make it to your eyes. If not... oh well. It still needs to be said.

A close mutual friend of ours passed away last week. He died young and unexpectedly, and left behind a wife and daughter. Those who knew him and cared about him were devastated.

With the service planned for the following Wednesday, I volunteered to help contact all of his old friends to see who could attend. Having known him since High School, I was able to reach out to those he had lost contact with, those with fond memories of an old friend who had tragically passed away at the age of 36. I contacted everyone I could think of that might have even indirectly known him, on the off chance that they would want to come and pay their respects.

I did not attempt to contact you.

You were one of his closest friends back in the old days - practically joined at the hip, as is proven by numerous pictures and videos the two of you took back then. Thick as thieves, some would say. But I made no attempt to contact you with the news. Not because of the animosity between us now, or out of any fear of confrontation or personal grudge. I did not attempt to contact you because, in my honest opinion, you did not deserve to know.

I was informed by some mutual friends of ours (the ones you have childishly told you can not associate with as long as they are still friends of mine), that they felt you should be informed. I disagree with their judgement, but can forgive them for the error, as they still feel some weird affection towards you, like the ghostly pains of a phantom limb. They only see what used to be there. But, their hearts were in the right place. So they informed you of our old friend's demise, and invited you to the service.

You said you were sorry to hear about his death, and that you would send a card or something, but that you would not attend the service. I predicted as much before I was told. You have spent most of your adult life isolating yourself from old friends one by one, using excuses of moral outrage and logical wariness to rationalize your disdain for exerting undue effort on behalf of anyone but yourself. But you couldn't just say you were busy, or had to work, or didn't want to travel so far. You already knew that these cop-outs would not fly, that other friends who had not seen him in years were taking time off work and traveling for hours on end to say farewell to someone they cared deeply about. So, you fell back on an old standby. You blamed me. I am much too dangerous, you explained, and you have to protect me from your family.

I did not invite you to the service because I felt you did not belong there. But you were invited anyway. And you proved me right by refusing to attend. I am not upset that you did not attend our friend's funeral. You gave up your rights to consider yourself a friend in mourning when you turned your back on him and his family, not only making up excuses to avoid visiting, but cutting off all communication with him out of some strange aversion to other people's problems, an impulse that none of your other former friends have been able to fully comprehend or explain. For someone whose family constantly rubs his old brother's successes in his face to imply his own shortcomings, you have an awful disdain for the weaknesses and faults of others.

I almost believe that our dearly departed mutual friend would agree. He had eventually caught on to your little game of Silent Treatment, and in the past years both he and his wife had expressed to me their displeasure with your attitude and judgement. But I have a feeling that, were he alive today, or if he is in someway witnessing all that has transpired since he died, that he would ultimately forgive you your transgressions and welcome you back as a friend. He was a kind person with a heart bigger than most, and a far more forgiving soul than me. To him, your presence at the service would probably have been seen as a blessing, rather than the insult that it would be.

No, I am not mad at you for not attending our friend's funeral. I'm glad you chose not to attend. You proved yourself to be as shallow and vain as I had predicted. But I take issue with you scapegoating me as the reason. Too cowardly to just say you can't be bothered to honor the memory of a childhood friend, you hide behind accusations that I am a "Dangerous" man, too wild and unpredictable to allow access to you and your family. I will admit that I am a large man, and stand strong and vindictive with my passions and beliefs, sometimes often stubbornly so (as this open letter undoubtedly proves). But you would have to travel far and wide to find those who can honestly claim they have been harmed by my hand or through my intentions. I am no Mother Theresa, but it would take a fair amount of creative enhancement of my actions and deeds to paint me as any kind of imminent threat.

Besides, what is this "family" you are so eager to protect me from? You have spent most of your adult life running away from your immediate family, rightfully eager to distance yourself from parents and siblings that have done little more than look down on you since your childhood, always treating you as an inferior and a disappointment. You've succeeded in this escape on many levels, apparently, since even your own mother doesn't have a single picture of you on her Facebook page. Plenty of your older brother and his family, but not a single one of you. She even has one of your wife, although I'm assuming that was because she liked the dress. I know this, by the way, because your mother was on our dead friend's Facebook Friends List.

If I am indeed dangerous to you, than I am a danger to your heightened self-image, and the rationalizations you use to build walls of false logic and moral superiority between yourself and others, intricate facades meant to obscure the truly selfish and emotionally lazy reasons you have for your treatment of people you somehow refer to as friends. You select and eliminate friends like a child in a schoolyard, assuming that your approval or disapproval means something about the intrinsic worth of others, that your imposed rankings and presumptuous bartering of friendship as chattel ("I can't be your friend if you are his friend.") carries an weight or substance, as if such prepubescent posturing has any place in the complicated world of adult relationships.

You turned your back on our friend as you did countless others, and always with hypocritical reasoning. You turn your back on a friend because of his less than wise personal life choices, then sink money into a house on a flood plane now worth half what you paid, at best. You reject a friend because of his educational career choices, only to drop out of NYU after a solid week because you couldn't handle it. You shun friends because they are having drug or alcohol problems, only to become a closet drinker yourself, sneaking cases of wine into your bedroom at night while your parents are asleep. You criticize friends for breaking the law and not respecting the property of others, then illegally enter your neighbor's vacant apartment on New Years Eve as a joke. You eliminate friends from your life with smug self-justification, then hold a bitter grudge when one of those friends becomes famous after forming a band he didn't invite you to join.

I guess we do still have our differences. But at least we both agreed on one thing: you didn't belong at our old friend's funeral. Too bad you had use me as an excuse. Since you weren't there, however, let me assure you that you were not missed. Get used to that.


An old, former friend.

P.S. No doubt, you will react to my communication with you as you have in the past, by threatening to submit it as evidence of some sort of ever-increasing imaginary threat I pose to the safety of you and your "family." In order to facilitate the process for your local authorities, I have included below a complete list of my alleged transgressions:

*Allegedly (without any evidence or proof to support such accusations) making copies of your wife's LiveJournal posts in which she said nasty things about her in-laws, and then mailing those unfortunate public statements to your parents via the postal service.

[I must point out that this event took place before our mutual falling out, after which I was suddenly blamed. Before our falling out, all accusations regarding the mysterious LiveJournal Copies were directed (also without evidence) at your former upstairs neighbor in the house rented to you by your parents, whose apartment I witnessed you enter illegally on several occasions.]

*Calling you two days after the birth of our dead friend's daughter to chastise you for not calling to congratulate him, and then erupting into a fifteen-minute rant in which I said many ugly, nasty, horrible things about you and your wife.

[Guilty as charged, as the audience of coworkers who giggled uncontrollably while watching me will readily contest to.]

*Inviting you and/or your spouse to a dozen or so online social networks over a one-year period, including MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and several others that are most likely defunct by now.

[Feel free to attach your itemized, dated list of these invites, which you sent me once as proof of my "harassment" of you. I'm assuming I'm not the only person on the list of unwanted invites, however, since even your mother doesn't have you as one of her Facebook Friends.]

*Writing a short parody of the Saw film franchise as a Pledge commercial, in which I inadvertently gave a character the same name as your wife.

[An honest coincidence, which I attempted to correct by immediately changing the name of the character. Later, realizing how stupid the accusation was, as there was no similarities whatsoever between your wife and the character beyond the name, I went back and restored the original name of the character in the piece, which can still be read here.] 

Add this open letter condemning you for your cowardly and selfish actions in regards to an old friend's passing to the list, and I think that brings us up to date. Wow, I really am dangerous, aren't I?
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Rachel Maddow Tears Into Mitt Romney, Does Epic Segment From 'Man Cave' (VIDEO)

Maddow's rant runs the risk of feeling a bit like an overreacti­on. Until, that is, you remember that state Rep. Scott Randolph was actually chastised by the Florida GOP earlier this year for uttering the word "uterus" on the house floor.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Friday, October 7, 2011

10/7/11: The Occupy Wall Street Declaration of Occupation

Day 17 Occupy Wall Street October 3 2011 Shank...Image by david_shankbone via Flickr‎"As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

"We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

* They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

* They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

* They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

* They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

* They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

* They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

* They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

* They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

* They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

* They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

* They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

* They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

* They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

* They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.

* They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

* They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.

* They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

* They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

* They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

* They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

* They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
"To the people of the world,
"We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

"Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

"To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

"Join us and make your voices heard!"

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/4/11 - Jail Birds, Hummingbirds, Insiders and Outcasts

Bird CageImage by Dedlam via FlickrThe stench is palpable. It’s as hot as a Hen House, and the air oozes with a queasy combination of urine, vomit, and sweat-soaked fabric. The cell is packed with rowdy stragglers from last night’s Birds of a Feather promotion at Flanagan’s Pub. What was once a dank, grimy drunk tank is now a newly tarnished cage, displaying what happens when you give out free drinks to anyone who shows up in a bird costume on Fat Tuesday.

A threadbare chicken clutches at his red foam beak as he crouches in a far corner and heaves stale gin and bile on his wide yellow feet. Between Heckle and Jeckle, who are clearly not talking to one another, a homemade Peacock sits whimpering on the splintered bench, cradling what’s left of his papier-mâché plumage. A lone penguin with prison tattoos paces defiantly, staring down any lame duck that dares challenge the pecking order. Woodstock gets into a shoving match with Donald Duck, disrupting a flock of frat-brat Angry Birds debating the best place to cruise for chicks.

Someone’s made bail, but whoever posted it is apparently too drunk to give their friend’s real name. A weary cop stands by the cage and points through the bars in desperation. “Are you Big Bird? Are you Big Bird? Are you Big Bird” These canaries aren’t singing. A couple of dime-store Hen masks in Bermuda shorts turn the question into a chant, ruffling the cop’s feathers and riling the coop. Amidst the tightly-packed avian chaos, a sleeveless Rooster uses his poly-cotton wattle to mop the stale sweat from his flush, fevered face. His goose is clearly cooked.


Once again, Lee Camp energizes my morning commute by vocalizing the rant circling unformed in the back of my head. Thank you, Lee!


Time to turn the news off. I hear way too much punditry about who is the more captivating candidate or effective speaker, and far too little debate about whether anyone is actually sound in their logic or correct in what they are selling a factual information. The beltway and the media that covers it have become so obsessed with the political game that is Washington that they've overlooked the fact that it isn't a game. They aren't disseminating crucial information to a receptive public desperate for some comprehension regarding the way the system is or isn't working; the are merely catering their creative content towards their target audience of industry insiders and policy junkies more enamored with the intricacies of the process than the results of actions taken. Time to turn it off for awhile.


"Man caught trying to smuggle hummingbirds in his underwear."

They needn't have bothered attaching an article to the headline and photo. They stand on their own.

Hummer, anyone?
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Monday, October 3, 2011

10/3/11: Delayed Dreams, Postponed News, Lengthy Protests and Depleted Days

Computer cleaning dusters are dangerous to inh...Image via WikipediaMy use of the snooze alarm in the morning has become so routine and predictable that my dreams now pattern themselves around the three ten-minute bursts of temporary pseudo-sleep I subject myself to before finally getting up in the morning. My subconscious is become smarter than my waking self. This concerns me.


Thanks to my relatively short commute on non-school days, I am now roughly two weeks behind on my political podcasts. This morning's Best of the Left, for example, is all about Obama's failure to update smog regulations, a news event that occurred a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, I'm finding it easier to listen to distressing and worrisome news with a two-week buffer between me and the actual date of the news in question. It's like have a time delay on reality. Am I the only one who finds it easier to handle frustrating news when it can be referred to as "recent" instead of "current?"


The more coverage I see of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the more impressed I am that we are finally seeing a real response to crimes perpetrated against the country and its citizens by these soulless financial power structures. I actually feel guilty for not going down and participating myself.


A common nugget of wisdom often offered around the workplace is "Keep busy, and the day will go by quickly." Why would I want that? How have we arrived at a mentality in which speeding up the passage of time and hastening our eventual demise is seen as a positive recommendation? I don't want any of my days to go by quickly. Even the crappy ones. We have far too few days as it is to go around wishing a speedy passage to any of them. When your job inspires you to consider deleting hours of your existence as a positive attitude, it might time to reconsider your vocational choices.


I'm slowly coming around to the realization that I don't drink nearly enough. As a matter of fact, maybe our entire attitude towards recreational drug use is outdated and misinformed. Sure, habitual drug use is damaging to the individual's mind and body, and can have disastrous effects for them economically as well as socially. But these days, the same thing can be said for many of the jobs people are forced to take on just in order to survive in this economic climate.

For every person suffering physical ailments from heavy smoking, drinking, or other drug use, I can show you someone with long-term disabilities due to workplace injuries, repetitive or restricted movement, unsafe work environments, chemical exposure, or simply the constant strain from performing duties above and beyond what would normally be considered safe or acceptable. For every family torn apart by a family member's drug abuse, I can show you a family destroyed by economic realities that force both parents to work, sometimes at multiple jobs, invariably neglecting their children, eliminating familial contact and communication, and creating a weary, negative atmosphere for those rare moments that the entire family manages to assemble as a whole for a meal.

When struggling to maintain an average, modern-day existence has the same long term debilitating effects as getting high, stoned or tight, who is to say which path offers more rewarding results?
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Friday, September 30, 2011

9/30/11 - Bangles, White Suits, Homemade Wine and Haunted Houses

"It's just another manic Monday..."Image by Joriel "Joz" Jimenez via FlickrIs it even legal for the local bland radio station to be playing Manic Monday on a Friday Morning? That just doesn't seem right.

Not that I listen to the radio anymore. And let's not go giving all of the credit to Steve Jobs, either. I abandoned the radio music format years before I even thought of owning an iPod. The constant repeating of the same group of station-designated popular favorites inspired my non-broadcast revolution, compounded by my early commuting years. Granted, relegating myself to cassette tapes and compact discs still left me with a finite amount of repeating songs, but at least they were the songs that I chose to be subjected to for hours on end.

I didn't abandon radio, though. I simply flipped to the AM side. Influenced by the background noise of choice for the local comic book store I would hang out at (Metropolis Comics) during my Bloomfield High School days, I quickly became addicted to conservative, right-wing radio. Ironically, as I grew older and started to actually disagree with the angry white men crowding the talk radio airwaves, I found myself listening even more. Not only was there variety, but listening to opposing viewpoints was always a pleasurable gateway to open thought.

I guess that's where I differ from most people when it comes to radio listening habits. It is possibly also the reason why I can't have anything playing in the background while I am writing, unlike other authors who feel more productive with music or television filling the dead air in their work space. My brain doesn't convert those unrelated sounds into a soothing white noise - instead, it desperately scans it for something to latch onto, anything that it can use to create a new train of thought. Which is seldom a good thing, especially when my coworkers insist on having radios playing softly in the background throughout the entire workday.

Oh good, another Billy Joel song. That should help the day go back quickly.


Last night's dream started out like a typical "I'm late for school and unprepared for class" mild nightmare, then somehow became a hostage situation that quickly degenerated into a Mexican standoff when the arrival of an old journal (delivered with the chunk of land, palm tree and decimated corpse with which it was found) that challenged the main bad guy's memory of his father's bravery in battle (turns out he died from a cold while eating soup, or something to that effect) and drives him into a homicidal rage. There was a touching moment in which one hostage proposed to another while rapping, so it wasn't all bad. Almost everybody was dressed in white suits, though, so that was weird.

Verdict: too much homemade Pinot Noir before bed.


Dream House opens this weekend. Great! I was so hoping that Hollywood would break ranks from the normal expectations of formulaic Halloween cinematic traditions and release a Haunted House film this October. It's also nice to see that they have chosen to buck the trend of previous horror films by incorporating creepy little girls into the movie.

Two creepy girls? That is so awesome. I don't even think I've ever seen that kind of imagery in a haunted house horror film before. Even the wallpaper seems completely original.

Talk about a breath of fresh air.


In his review of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Gore Vidal said "What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?"


No politics today. Not in the mood.

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